Bid on the Heavy Medal of Soul: James Brown's KenCen Bling

Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Always wanted a Kennedy Center Honors medal? Never made the cut? Tomorrow, you can buy your very own.

On Monday, South Carolina's Court of Appeals ruled that Christie's New York auction of James Brown memorabilia can proceed with hundreds of personal items owned by the Godfather of Soul. Lot 328 caught our eye: Brown's 2003 Kennedy Center Honors medal, with an estimated value of $10,000 to $15,000.

Every December, the prestigious award -- a rainbow ribbon with three engraved brass plates -- is presented to performing arts A-listers. Loretta Lynn, Itzhak Perlman, Carol Burnett and Mike Nichols were feted alongside Brown five years ago. Many honorees have died since the awards began 30 years ago, but Brown's appears to be the first offered for sale. (Officials at the center, who weren't aware the medal was part of the auction, declined to comment.)

Brown's heirs and business managers have been battling since he died in 2006, and earlier this year a judge ordered the sale (jumpsuits, capes, handwritten lyrics, photos, hats, even a Grammy) to pay legal bills and estate taxes.

Hillary's Parting Line Moves a Smidge to the Right

Hillary Clinton returned to the Senate floor yesterday to give a big speech -- on a Medicare doctor payment bill -- and showed off a new hairdo. Since leaving the presidential race, she's gone shorter . . . and shifted her part from the left to the right. Just thought you'd want to know.

Strange, We've Heard This Theme Before

Satire has always been a dangerous game -- long before the New Yorker set off the slow-summer semi-controversy with its cartoon of fist-bumping Obamas, he in Muslim garb, she in revolutionary 'fro. (Some blasted it as rumormongering; others called it satire; our colleague Philip Kennicott said it missed the target.)

Forty-four years ago, it was The Washington Post that didn't get the joke. The subject was Stanley Kubrick's movie "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." A scolding article ("Film With A-War Theme Creates New World Problems for U.S.," Feb. 21, 1964) ripped "anti-American" themes and scaremongering that could "cause the United States as much harm as many a coup or revolution." Also: "It assumes that an American military madman could set off a nuclear war. . . . The movie completely neglects the vast precautions aimed at preventing just such a catastrophe." Finally: "Moscow gold could not have purchased a better piece of propaganda."

The Peter Sellers classic, of course, went on to snag four Oscar nominations; today it sits on the AFI's list of funniest movies (at No. 3) and best of all time (No. 39). And no madman set off a nuclear war. (Yet.)

This Just In...

Conservative radio host Sean Hannity urged listeners to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday, but dozens of them reached Amy Foster, catering sales manager at the Palm restaurant. Unclear whether Hannity misspoke or listeners misheard (Foster's number is 202-222-0500; the speaker's office, 202-225-0100). Some callers said "wrong number," some asked for Pelosi, and a few finally explained the mix-up -- but no one booked a party at the restaurant. Missed opportunity!

Love, Etc...

Split: Comedians Jimmy Kimmel, 40, and Sarah Silverman, 37, whose five-year relationship was often chronicled and mocked on his late-night show. Although her famous sketch about how she was, uh, dating Matt Damon was almost definitely a joke, we're almost sure this breakup is for real. Vanity Fair, which broke the news, declares that "their union was the binding force that kept Hollywood from exploding in a mass chain reaction of irony and sexual frivolity." No idea what that means, either. Certainly sounds dire.

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